Ebizo’s alleged assailant arrested

Kyodo News

Police arrested on Friday a 26-year-old man for allegedly assaulting top kabuki performer Ichikawa Ebizo at a bar in Tokyo in late November.

The Metropolitan Police Department said the man, identified as Rion Ito, a resident of Tokyo, owned up to the assault. He was quoted as saying: “It’s true that I punched him. I’ll provide details after I’ve cleared my mind.”

Ebizo, 33, at an earlier news conference denied engaging in any act of violence.

Investigative sources alleged that Ito, a former member of a motorcycle gang, punched Ebizo in the face in the early morning of Nov. 25 at a bar in Tokyo’s Nishiazabu district and caused him to sustain heavy injuries, including a broken cheek bone.

Tamasaburo stand-in

OSAKA (Kyodo) Star kabuki female impersonator Bando Tamasaburo will perform a New Year’s show in Tokyo as a replacement for Ichikawa Ebizo, who is suspended from stage activities for his involvement in a brawl.

Tamasaburo, 60, told reporters Thursday in Kyoto that he received a letter from Ebizo, 33, expressing the younger performer’s regret over the incident in late November.

“I hope he will work really hard as a young leader of the kabuki world,” said Tamasaburo, adding he was a little nervous when he heard of the offer because he hadn’t appeared in a New Year’s performance in a long time.

Junichi Sakomoto, president of kabuki stage organizer Shochiku Co., said he was grateful that Tamasaburo accepted the offer. “I was moved by his strong sense of responsibility,” he said.

Tamasaburo will appear in “Dannoura Kabuto Gunki Akoya” and “Onna Date” at Le Theater GINZA, where Ebizo’s performance had been scheduled, from Jan. 2 to 20, according to Shochiku.

Earlier in the week, Sakomoto announced Ebizo’s indefinite suspension following last month’s bar fight.